Caring for your pet during the Coronavirus Outbreak

With increasing concern over the coronavirus (COVID-19), Petplan explores the advice given and how to keep your pets safe during this time.

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At present, there is no evidence that pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus (COVID-19), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Can humans get coronavirus from dogs?

If you’ve heard about coronavirus in dogs, you may be reassured to hear the World Health Organization have said “While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19.” WHO have stated they will continue to monitor the latest research and update the public with any new findings when they become available. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is mainly spread by human-to-human transmission through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.

How to keep you and your pet safe?

If you are not self-isolating then there should be little change to the way you spend time with and look after your pet. However it is always best to follow basic good hygiene practices when dealing with pets regardless of the coronavirus. Petplan veterinary expert, Brian Faulkner has shared his top tips for keeping up good hygiene when around your pets.

  • Regular hand washing - Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly after touching your four legged friends and any of their food, toys and bedding.
  • Keep surfaces clean – Clean and wipe these down regularly with a cleaning spray or hot water and washing up liquid, and disinfect your surfaces regularly.
  • Don’t let your dog lick your face– This helps to limit the spread of germs
  • Don’t let your pets sleep in your bed – This is to stop their hair, bacteria and possibly the fleas and dirt your pet may have in their coats from entering your bed.

What should I do if I’m self-isolating and have a pet?

When self-isolating, you will need to make sure you can still meet your pet’s needs during this time. Ensuring you have food and other essential items in the house, or ready for delivery is a good first step. If you own a horse, arrange for a friend to care for them until you're able to return to normal.

If your pet needs medication or veterinary care, it is best to give your vet a call to discuss your situation and see how they may be able to help.

While self-isolating, it is difficult to give your dog the same level of mental and physical stimulation as they would receive on a walk. Nevertheless there are many activates you can do with them inside to keep them happy and healthy.

  • Change up their toys – Start putting some of their favourite toys on rotation. Keeping some toys hidden away so each day is a little different.
  • Play hide and seek – Selecting some of their favourite treats or toys, place them around the house making your pup use their nose to search and locate them.
  • Brain games and puzzles – There are lots of different interactive toys available to keep your dog mentally stimulated. Some come with varying degrees of difficultly so you can adjust as your dog improves. You can also make one of your own using a cardboard box/toilet roll tube with small holes in and treats inside. We recommend using a portion of your dog’s daily food for games in order to avoid overfeeding.
  • Teach new tricks – Most dogs love learning so teaching or reinforcing tricks such as “sit”, “lie”, “roll over” and “high five” will bring enjoyment and fun to their day.
  • TV, radio and podcasts – If you have ever seen your dog or cat react to other animals on your TV before you will know how inquisitive it can make them. They may even start barking or running behind the screen to find the animals. This will all help to keep them moving around and their brains active.
  • Dinner time – Instead of giving them their entire daily ration in their feeding bowls, make feeding more exciting by making the food harder to find. Whether you use a game of hide and seek, a puzzle or Kong, these are all great ways to improve physical and mental stimulation.

During this stressful time, make sure you are safeguarding yourself and paying close attention to your mental and physical needs as well as your pets. Although it’s vital that your dog’s needs are met, your own wellbeing is just as important.

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